Friday, March 12, 2010

A Brother's Love (an open letter to Mark)

On the 8th of December 2009, my beautiful younger brother Mark, sadly passed away after a thirteen month battle with cancer. His was a courageous fight. It was a very rare and particularly aggressive form of cancer. He did everything he could to beat it. But in the end, it was not to be. His journey was destined to take him in another direction. We were very blessed to have him with us for as long as we did.

On the morning of his passing, before it happened, I was intending to write him a letter. Sadly, in life, I never got that chance, for just a few hours later, his beautiful soul took flight. But that letter has been plaguing me ever since - going around and around in my head. I used to write about my metaphysical experiences a lot, when I was actively using Flickr. It's been quite a while since I have. But during that time, I used to get emails from strangers, telling me how my words and experiences had helped them and given them comfort. Perhaps that's why this one still had to be written. I certainly wasn't going to find peace until it was. So, exactly three months to the day after we gathered for his service and bid him farewell, here it is.

I was originally intending to include it in my main blog - but had second thoughts. I didn't want this to get lost. So I decided instead to give it it's own special place.
Hey bro'

Well, here I finally am. It's taken three months, but this is it. The letter I've been writing in my head over and over (and over). There hasn't been a day since you passed, when I haven't thought about this letter. I must have written it in my mind a thousand times already. I wish I could have done it sooner. I've been procrastinating, big time - but you know that already, don't you. And yeah, I wish I hadn't spent so much time and energy avoiding it. Because I've had this unshakable sense that this is the reason why everything else in my life has come to a grinding halt since (and nothing gone particularly 'right') – as if the universe has been waiting for me to finally put the words down. A timing and an order to all things, after all.

This is my second attempt (but you know that too, of course). I spent hours pouring over the first letter. But it came out far too sad. Too sorrowful. And that wasn't the kind of letter I wanted to write you. It wasn't the kind of letter it was meant to be. Upbeat, hopeful, inspirational – I suspect that was always the real intention for it.

I still can't quite believe you aren't here any more. At least, not in the physical sense. The shock and disbelief, the numbness, the utterly surreal sensations that arose with your passing, I don't think they've fully left me yet. Even though it became inevitable that it was going to happen, I wasn't prepared for the depth of emotion I would experience, and have experienced since. I shouldn't think any of us were. How do you prepare yourself for something like that? I don't know that you ever really can.

In the early hours of the morning of 8 December 2009, I sat down with a sheet of paper and a pen and wrote a list of things I needed to do. Among the things on that list was a letter, to you – intended to be written while you were still with us. The inspiration for it came the day before. All the things I wanted to say to you, and hadn't. I'm not always so good at the verbal (but hey, neither were you!), so I thought if I could at least write it down, in that way, you would know. But a few precious hours later, you would slip away from us (I will never forget that day). And it seemed that I wouldn't get the chance to write my letter, after all. But as it turns out, I was wrong. Because that damned letter has been haunting me ever since. And while I've been procrastinating all this time, I've known too, that it was still gonna have to be written. Because from the very moment I received that initial inspiration, it was never really going to be a matter of choice. I should have understood that sooner.

December 12th – is it really three months today since your service? Since your loving friends and family gathered to honour you and say their sad goodbyes? I can't quite believe. But of course, you knew that particular date was significant anyway, didn't you. I suspect that's why it was chosen. And yes, it was chosen, on some higher level, there's no question about that. I knew immediately. Because of what that date already meant, and cos nothing is ever by coincidence. If I don't get that by now, I never will. Even the date of your passing – December 8th – I knew at the time, that it too would probably prove to be more significant than at first it might have seemed. And in the months that have passed and all that has unfolded since, that has certainly proven to be the case. It would seem, that by some grand design or plan, one that we have not been privy to, everything has played out, exactly as it was meant to. Like I said, a timing and an order to all things. For everything a reason.

In life, my spiritual beliefs and metaphysical experiences long stood between us. You and Dad have always been my biggest sceptics. I'd get shot down in flames anytime I ever tried to bring up the subject of anything other than what you could see or understand or believe with your ordinary senses. And there were times, even, when things got a little heated. Those conversations were just easier and better off not had. And so I have become increasingly private over the years, and have spoken to only a handful of people about my many wonderful experiences and encounters with the spiritual realms. But as difficult as the past months have been, there has been a very definite shift going on for me since your passing too. Signs and synchronicities impossible to ignore, abound. And although I couldn't feel it at first, I've become very aware of your presence and influence around me in this past month or so.

Some strange things happened that week at home – the dreams, signs, dates, numbers. The universe has been speaking to me in the language of dates and numbers for a very long time (I never think it strange until other people make mention of it). I see the fine but invisible threads that tie seemingly unrelated things and events together. And I realised very quickly there was so much more to your life and passing than the 'obvious'. And some rather extraordinary things have come to light since. What we believed to be your life's purpose, I now suspect was something very different to what was assumed and appeared to be from the outside looking in. As Thomas himself noted “Perhaps a force greater than all of us determined that his grand design should be converted to another purpose”. He wasn't wrong, was he, bro'.

In my first attempt, I dwelt a lot on my regrets (and there have been many) – like, all the things I missed out on in your life because I was too damned busy keeping to myself and becoming increasingly reclusive over more recent years – like, just how little I really knew about you, and how many of the important moments in your life, I was not there to share (not even your last New Year, or your 40th birthday last March – I never dreamed it would be your last with us) - like, all the times I wasn't there to support you – not really even after you were diagnosed with that insidious cancer. Not the way I should have been. I was pigheaded and stubborn too. And clearly, I couldn't see beyond that. I could go on. But I'm not going to. I don't think that was meant to be the purpose of this letter.

You were brilliant – blessed beyond belief with the most extraordinary intellect. An IQ of 150 – that put you in a league of your own, bro'. None of us could even come close to matching you. And didn't you know it! Scrabble? Huh, forget it! (I've since heard that you could actually be beaten at squash though). Your gift was as much your curse as your blessing in some respects. It could make you frustratingly difficult to get along with - reason with (actually, pretty much impossible), sometimes. But you were sensitive. Caring. Passionate. And compassionate. With a huge heart and a humanitarian drive I never really got to see. You thought big. Really big. On a grand scale. You saw so much of what was wrong with the world, and during the course of your all-too-short but precious life, you strove to change things, for the betterment of all. Hell, I didn't even know you loved flowers. How could that be? With you so far away in Perth, me in Melbourne, and everyone else at home in Queensland, the long but unintended distances (geographical and otherwise), and silences between us all were simply too long.

While I have many regrets, they have been made much easier to come to terms with, knowing that you are here with me still. I've been aware of your presence for the past month or so. How could I not be? You've made it impossible for me not to know! Signs and synchronicities abound. Dates and numbers have been giving up their secrets. And I am seeing with a level of clarity and understanding I haven't experienced before now.

Back to that date – December 12th. Your health deteriorated rapidly in those last days, and as I made that emergency flight home to see you on Dec 6th, I silently wondered if the 12th would be the day. It was a significant date, because of what it already meant – a year to the day earlier, I had left my job to follow my heart and live my dream (and how far off course that has drifted since – until now, at least). It's never been just about the photography, but so very much more. When I found myself leaving the uni for the very last time on Dec 12th, 2008, I knew it wasn't by coincidence. The date had been chosen, but not be me. And it was special, for another reason too.

You were diagnosed three and a half weeks before my final day – November 19th, I'll never forget it. And do you remember – that email I sent you guys not long after you found out about the cancer? The one where I tried (albeit not too successfully) to share with you insights into my very private world and experiences (the things I'd been keeping from you all those years). The one where I tried to tell you that in March 2008, I had my first channelling experience (I'd been doing automatic writing for a number of years prior to that), but one special day, my beautiful angelic friends started to speak through me, and they haven't stopped since (yep, I talk to spirit entities – think that doesn't freak people out!). The one where I shared with you that rather strange and private stuff about Edgar Cayce? I couldn't possibly have expected you to understand any of what I was saying – hell, I've been grappling with it for years myself. I'm usually very guarded about how much I do say. Most people tend to think I'm at best, odd, or just plain crazy. Some are much closer to believing than others, some completely understand where I'm coming from because of their own experiences. And some just don't want to know. Is it, I wonder, because they don't believe – or perhaps because on some deeper level, they do? Maybe I am crazy. But if I'm not, then hey, I'm willing to bet that from your new and higher perspective, you are finally believing me now, bro'! And I would say to anyone - if you decided that you didn't believe in gravity, just because you couldn't see it, would that mean that gravity didn't exist? Have you ever held a sunbeam in your hand? Or actually seen the wind? The spiritual realms, for the most part, may be intangible, but they are no less real or valid or true (in fact are more so), than anything you can see or feel or taste with your physical senses. It is simply a matter of being aware and tuned in.

Do you remember reading this? It's the other reason why December 12th is so very special.

The angels, the turtle and the three white feathers

I guess you know by now that turtles in spiritual terms, in part, represent a time of spiritual death and rebirth. And a feather can signify an important message from the Creator. In many native traditions feathers are thought to be the connection between man and the supreme being. This I know, because of my wonderful 'Signposts' book – the Denise Linn paperback I have been using as my bible for the past 13 years or so.

It was you, wasn't it, the night before your service – you wanted me to take that walk along the beach front, didn't you. I felt so incredibly angry all that day (you know why), and I wanted to explode with the emotions I was holding in. When I walked out of Dad's place that night, I thought I was only going for that walk to let off steam. I hadn't planned to go. I didn't think about it, I just started walking – down the hill, across the park, and onto the beach. I walked for a long time. But the moment I stopped and sat on that rock and gazed down into the sea, and found myself staring at that large turtle bobbing about in the water below, I knew instantly. And when it disappeared, then returned, and disappeared and returned a third time, how could I not?

It was you I sensed on the balcony at Dad's place the night before, too, wasn't it. When I found myself alone for those few minutes. It was fleeting, but I know I wasn't imaging things.

And it was you who came to visit, a couple of nights after I flew back to Melbourne, too. I'm very certain. Mack is a really sensitive little guy. He's always been. So when he walked into the far corner of the bedroom and started barking, I should have known straight away. I wondered, but I thought he might have been barking at a cobweb shadow on the wall. Until I turned the light off, and back on again a few moments later, to observe him still standing there. Silently but obviously watching someone. I didn't say anything. I didn't need to.

And the little white feathers that have been strategically and none-too-subtly placed in my path not once, but on three separate occasions in the past two weeks? You wouldn't happen to know anything about that now, would you? And the myriad of other things that have happened in the past month or so. I couldn't possibly ignore it all. The new presence that I am quite literally feeling when I lie in bed first thing in the mornings and channel. I've never channelled for anyone else before, it's something that I do privately. Maybe that really was you who came through those couple of times in recent days. I don't feel confident enough in my abilities to really say for certain. But I would dearly love to think so. And choosing Crusty to be the celebrant at your service – you were SO responsible for that decision, weren't you. I know we didn't cross paths by chance. A couple of things he said. And I knew. Even Thomas briefly stopped to wonder.

I barely slept the night before your service. At one point, I had a vision, and then a dream – both, significant and full of meaning. I'd experienced numerous visions before, over the years - spontaneously, but not in a long time. They're distinctly different to dreams. I've always recognised them for what they are. And I understood what they were telling me.

It's been so very hard, these past months. A roller coaster of emotions. More downs than ups with my photographic endeavours – dead end after dead end, brick wall after brick wall. I've felt disappointed, lost, disillusioned, fed up and ready to walk away from it all, more times than I care to remember. And I've come very close. More than once. Maybe I just got it wrong. Perhaps it's simply not where I'm meant to be after all. But I haven't walked. Something just keeps stopping me. Maybe it's you. All those times you tried to push me in this direction. Gave me advice, support, information. I don't think I truly appreciated what you were trying to do for me. And I tended not to listen. So in case I never said it, and I'm very sure I didn't – a heartfelt thank you.

I will forever regret that I was not there for you, as I know I ought to have been. I should have tried harder, been stronger. But I don't have to tell you this, you're knowing already, exactly what lies in my heart. Recently I came across your response to the email I sent you and the family after your diagnosis. In part, it read: “You shouldn't feel you need to keep such a large part of your life private from us. Though we may or may not understand it, or be as far along toward such as you, it's still you, and we love you for the way you are, so it's important that we continue to know *you*. Sometimes, you seem so private, it's hard to do so.” Perhaps my biggest regret.

You began to broaden your own beliefs over the final months, as you went searching for something deeper. You embraced the deep spiritual wisdom of Eckhart Tolle through his teachings in 'The Power of Now'. I've been listening intently to the audio that Kel sent us in January. She wanted us to listen, in the hope that we might understand you better. I can honestly say, I do understand you better now. So much more than I ever did in life.

Your incredible courage in the face of such adversity (you never for one minute believed you wouldn't beat the cancer), the fact that not until the last five days of your life did you give in and take any form of pain killer or medication is a testimony to your amazing strength. Your class and dignity. Your kind and gentle and sensitive and loving and giving and impossibly difficult nature – are just some of the things I will forever love and miss about you, Marko. The depth of the friendships that you forged in life, and the obvious love that those friends felt (feel) for you, became instantly apparent after your passing. The lasting impact that you will have upon those of us blessed enough to have you in our hearts and lives is immeasurable.

You are around me. Around all of us. I just wish the others could see and experience as I have been fortunate enough to do. I've had the help and guidance of some wonderful spiritual beings, for which I am truly grateful – I just don't always listen to their advice. God knows, they've had to be incredibly patient with me over the years! Perhaps it's that that keeps getting me into trouble and running into dead ends. If I were honest, I'd say that I don't listen to them nearly as much as I should (I can almost hear the cheer as I write!). But everything is different now. Everything has changed. And I (we) have a bright, shiny, new, guiding light in heaven. And that light is brighter than any other by far. That light is you, my beautiful, gifted, brilliant brother. And I will love you, love you, love you, for all eternity. See you on the other side, bro'.

Your loving sister
Tracy xxx